Four hundred years ago on a starry evening, an Italian man looked into the lens of his telescope and beheld the glories of the universe. One by one, over the course of time, he would document his discoveries and share them with his colleagues.
Such great illumination would come his way through the tiniest of portals—a little lens that would reveal gigantic truths. His life was about to change forever.
Galileo Galilei, the man of Tuscany, observed the phases of Venus and calculated that it revolved around the sun and not the earth. He turned his telescope to the sun and observed the awesome movements of its sunspots. Something was happening out there!
He detected shadowy patterns on our moon's surface, allowing him to discern that the moon had mountains and valleys. It was not a smooth and perfect cosmic ball, which was the belief of his time regarding all heavenly orbs.
Finally, the astronomer viewed four "stars" (today, we know them as moons) that always accompanied Jupiter, and with further observation, he saw that they revolved around that planet and not our own.
We are a part of a greater whole
This final observation regarding celestial orbs circling around another known planet would be the resounding discovery.
Through the lens of his telescope, Galileo came to a profound conclusion that only a few ancient Greeks and Copernicus before him had come to know. As human beings on planet earth, we are not the center of the universe! God had created an incredibly complex yet orderly tapestry of stars, planets and moons that revolve around His designs and purposes rather than man's. We are a part of a greater whole that we cannot totally comprehend.
Imagine Galileo's incredible desire to share such amazing observations! How do you keep something so grand "under wraps"?
Galileo not only dared to behold, but he also dared to tell a story that needed to be told. And tell, he did! He began to chronicle his observations in books. Galileo, a deeply religious man, desired to share his findings with his church.
As he ventured around Italy, he invited other scholars and religious figures alike to peer into the world that had opened up to him. Many refused to peer into this window of opportunity. But why? They were afraid. Whatever they saw would change their way of thinking and course of actions.
Shattering the status quo
Eventually the Catholic Church's involvement with Galileo moved from curiosity and dismissal to condemnation. The religious authorities of his day could not equate his findings with biblical verses such as Psalms 93:1 Psalms 93:1The LORD reigns, he is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength, with which he has girded himself: the world also is established, that it cannot be moved.
American King James Version×, Psalms 96:10 Psalms 96:10Say among the heathen that the LORD reigns: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously.
American King James Version×and 1 Chronicles 16:30 1 Chronicles 16:30Fear before him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved.
American King James Version×that discuss (depending on the translation) that the world is firmly established and it shall not be moved.
The religious authorities improperly interpreted these verses regarding the sovereignty of God's purpose for the earth as referring to its literal placement in relationship to other heavenly bodies.
Galileo's heliocentric teachings squarely confronted the long-standing teachings of the Catholic Church, as well as the generally accepted geocentric conclusions of Aristotle, the Greek philosopher. Ultimately, Galileo was placed on trial for heresy before the Inquisition of the church and was forced to recant his findings.
For the remainder of his life, he endured house imprisonment. During those final years, the astronomer with eyes that had beheld the movement of the heavens went completely blind. But even though he recanted his observations in order to save his life, and even as his eyes dimmed, he knew the truth that he had seen. By tradition, it is said that even as he recanted he mumbled under his breath—"And yet it moves!"
Galileo had dared to behold and dared to tell facts that needed to be told. He learned, like so many others throughout history, that shattering the status quo of widely held beliefs and taking on treasured icons is risky business. There are "none so blind as those who refuse to see." And yes, one must be willing to suffer the consequences for the sake of truth.
"The Country of the Blind"
Truth can be stranger than fiction, but allow me to share a fictitious story with a powerful point. It is reminiscent of the plight of Galileo as well as of the servants of God down through the ages who dare to describe the works of a Creator who men refuse to acknowledge.
H.G. Wells wrote a short story titled "The Country of the Blind" about a man who fell over a precipice into a valley isolated from the rest of the world. He discovered that all the people living there had no eyes.
No one had ever seen the sky, nor did they know what sunlight was like. "Sight" was not a word in their vocabulary. Despite being incredibly inventive and clever with their hands, they believed only in what they could taste, smell, touch and hear. They told the visitor that there was a solid ceiling at certain times and heat to be turned on and off at other times.
He assured them that there was no solid ceiling but glorious infinite sky, filled with stars by night and the glory of the sun by day. He said that water fell from cloud galleons sailing in the marvelous ocean of the sky and that warmth streamed upon them from a heavenly body millions of miles away.
At first they mocked him for supposing that they were gullible enough to believe such childish fantasies. Then they decided he must be a lunatic and might be dangerous. Finally, they insisted that he must undergo a surgical operation and let them remove the two soft, twitching, bulging objects that they could feel in his face to cure his incomprehensible disease—sight.
Holding onto those eyes
But why such drastic measures? Evidently these eyes were the cause of his mad delusions. Once they were removed, he would become like the rest of them, happily unaware of a dream world of fantastic nonsense and satisfied with the practical world of things merely heard and touched.
Rather than lose his precious sight, the man chose to climb to the foot of the precipice over which he had fallen, and there, in the freezing cold of the oncoming night, he contentedly lay down to a certain fate and once more viewed the beauty of the glowing sunset.
This man was willing to share with others the reality of a world unseen by them. The world and light he saw was so real to him—he could not bear to exist in a diminished world and deny the world he saw. He knew it! He lived it. He shared it. He died for it.
The gravity of human nature
Galileo and the stranger in "The Country of the Blind" are compelling examples of what has faced servants of God down through the ages. The challenge has been the gravity of human nature. It powerfully pulls toward self what it holds near, dear and true and repels the awakenings that God provides about a much larger world than the tiny stagnant boxes into which we unwittingly try to squeeze Him.
And thus like with Galileo or the man in "The Country of the Blind," we seek to do away with the messenger rather than heed the message. Why? People don't want to stir up things and make matters messy ("don't confuse me with the facts").
Shattering the status quo is serious business, but God has been at it for a long time through His servants. Nathan the prophet didn't make King David peer through a telescope, but he challenged him to look into himself and recognize, "You are the man!"—the one David had just condemned to death (2 Samuel 12:7 2 Samuel 12:7And Nathan said to David, You are the man. Thus said the LORD God of Israel, I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul;
American King James Version×).
King Ahab of Israel strove to marginalize the prophet Elijah by branding him the "troubler of Israel." But the prophet swung the lens of God's message around and said to the king: "I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father's house have" (1 Kings 18:17-18 1 Kings 18:17-18  And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, Are you he that troubles Israel?
 And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but you, and your father's house, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and you have followed Baalim.
American King James Version×).
Jesus came with a view of the Kingdom of Heaven that would have made Galileo faint, but the people of Jesus' day scoffed and scowled. In fact, they put Him through their own form of inquisition, because they couldn't handle the facts.
What He brought was too radical and would "upset the cart" of tradition and time-honored ways of doing things. He had said that not one stone of the temple would be left standing (Matthew 24:2 Matthew 24:2And Jesus said to them, See you not all these things? truly I say to you, There shall not be left here one stone on another, that shall not be thrown down.
American King James Version×). The temple was the center of the Jewish universe at that time. Everything revolved around it.
Jesus was striving to widen their universe! As Dorothy Sayers put it so well, "He [Christ] retorted by asking disagreeable questions that could not be answered by rule of thumb...But He had a 'daily beauty in His life that made us ugly.'" And so the leaders decided the established order of things would be more secure without Him. "So they did away with God in the name of peace and quietness."
Daring to share!
Daring to share what you behold bears great risks. The prophetic scriptures of the Bible indicate that true servants of God in the future will proclaim what God reveals to them through the lens of His Holy Spirit.
Your Bible reveals a world in the future where everyone will be enamored with a temporal and religious system collectively known as "the beast."
The flow and order of this global system will appear seamless, grounded and even religiously sublime. The overwhelming sentiment will be, "Who is like the beast?" (Revelation 13:4 Revelation 13:4And they worshipped the dragon which gave power to the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like to the beast? who is able to make war with him?
American King James Version×). This system's economy will appear well-ordered and supply everyone's needs (Revelation 18:10-19 Revelation 18:10-19  Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is your judgment come.  And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buys their merchandise any more:  The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble,  And cinnamon, and odors, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.  And the fruits that your soul lusted after are departed from you, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from you, and you shall find them no more at all.  The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing,  And saying, Alas, alas that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!  For in one hour so great riches is come to nothing. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,  And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like to this great city!  And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.
American King James Version×).
Thinking and using the mind and heart God gave man to come to Him will become short-circuited. The gravity of human nature will draw humanity as a whole into the small universe of an evil man and a false prophet.
But there are those who will be looking through a different lens—one that opens up to the God of heaven and reveals that their God is greater than the accepted beliefs of their time. This different lens reveals that the Creator of the universe is on a straight trajectory toward planet earth, and there is going to be a collision between His Kingdom and the kingdoms of this earth (Revelation 19:11-16 Revelation 19:11-16  And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he does judge and make war.
 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
 And he was clothed with a clothing dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
 And the armies which were in heaven followed him on white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
 And out of his mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treads the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
 And he has on his clothing and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
American King James Version×).
Such individuals will not only dare to behold what God chooses to do but will dare to tell the facts that need to be told about a system that appears ordained of God but is godless in nature.
Just like with Galileo, the prophets of old and Jesus Christ, people will desire to silence them or take out those eyes that make them speak of such "foolish nonsense." When all else fails, people will seek to extinguish the light altogether in the name of peace and quietness.
And yet God moves!
But unlike Galileo, the servants of God will not recant! Revealed prophetic truth is more powerful than fiction. Scripture reveals that individuals like God's two witnesses will go to their deaths rather than deny the God of the heavens (Revelation 11:7-8 Revelation 11:7-8  And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
American King James Version×).
The Bible foretells of Christians who "did not love their lives to the death" (Revelation 12:11 Revelation 12:11And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives to the death.
American King James Version×) because of what they saw through the lens of God's personal revelation to them. Rather than murmur under their breath, "And yet it moves," they testify loud and clear, "And yet God moves!"
Until that time, let's take time in the here and now to ask ourselves, What lens are we looking through? Is it the lens of human nature that pulls us into the shallow orbit of self? Or is it the lens of God's expansive revelation that reveals what He is truly doing?
Perhaps the words of David, the psalmist of old, best echo the sentiment of "this is the way, walk in it" (Isaiah 30:21 Isaiah 30:21And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk you in it, when you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left.
American King James Version×) when he directs our attention upward and outward.
He proclaimed, "When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?" (Psalms 8:3-4 Psalms 8:3-4  When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained;
 What is man, that you are mindful of him? and the son of man, that you visit him?
American King James Version×).